Made for school and business use, the Dell Latitude 3300 is hard to beat for the money
- Good value
- Plenty of ports
- Excellent battery life
- Uninspired design
- Cheap build materials
Back-to-school season has made its dreaded return, inducing tech-based panic in students and parents across the nation. It can be a nightmare, scrambling to find a suitable laptop to buy for your child or, for those heading to uni, yourself. If you’re reading this review, though, then the search may be over.
I’m not saying the Dell Latitude 3300 is a flawless laptop that’s guaranteed to suit everyone’s needs. But when it comes to mid-range student-oriented machines, this is as about as good as it gets. Sound interesting? Read on to find out why this hardy little laptop might be right for you or your child.
Dell Latitude 3300 review: What you need to know
The Latitude 3300 is a no-frills Windows workhorse that’s built to take a battering in the classroom. This configuration has a 13.3in HD (1,366 x 768) display, an Intel Core i5-8250U CPU, 8GB RAM and an all-plastic chassis that’s about as inspiring as a calculator. For storage space, it uses a 256GB PCIe SSD and – unusually for such a cheap laptop – runs Windows 10 Pro.
Dell’s gone for a utilitarian design with the Latitude 3300, and you’re definitely not paying for the aesthetics. The colour scheme is a mixture of dark grey and black, while the body itself is made of cheap-feeling plastic. An effort has been made to ruggedise it, though, with some nice rubber edges on the lid and base that provide added grip and drop protection. Even still, it’s no tank, with a flimsy lid that bends a bit too much for my liking and a keyboard plate that depresses a tad too far.
Dell has spared every expense on the keyboard, too. Keys feel cheap, have little travel and produce a tinny clicking sound during typing. The touchpad’s surface is a bit grainy, but sensitivity is fine and palm-rejection works well.
The 3300’s 720p webcam is surprisingly effective in low-light conditions; I was able to make myself out clearly in a dark, cave-like environment (aka the Expert Reviews labs) where much pricier laptops have struggled. Unfortunately, the dual speakers are scratchy and totally unsuitable for music, though they’re loud enough for watching YouTube videos.
As for display quality, I’m neither impressed nor terribly disappointed. The 13.3in LCD panel has an adequate maximum brightness of 214.5cdm/2 and consistent brightness uniformity, although its contrast ratio of 269:1 leaves a lot to be desired. Add to that a poor overall sRGB colour gamut coverage of 53.5%, and it’s a pretty drab affair. It’s not the best platform for watching films or editing photos, but it’s as good as it needs to be for an education laptop. The bar really isn’t that high.
At least Dell has packed plenty of connectivity onto the Latitude 3300. In addition to the proprietary power port and 3.5mm audio jack, it fits in two USB Type-A 3.1 ports, a USB Type-C slot, an HDMI output and an RJ45 Ethernet jack. There’s also a microSD card slot thrown into the mix. For the average student, that’s more than enough.
And the same can be said about the Latitude 3300’s performance. With its quad-core i5-8250U, shifting up to 3.4GHz, and 8GB RAM, it’s actually specced above it price. In our 4K benchmark, which stress-tests a laptop’s CPU, memory and thermal management systems, the Latitude 3300 achieved a speed of 84 – remarkable for such an affordable laptop.
The chart above shows how slow rivals in the same price bracket are by comparison. With power like this, the Latitude 3300 is easily fast enough for multi-tab web browsing, office work and even less demanding games and creative applications.
Better yet, it’ll last all day thanks to the sensational lifespan of its 56Whr battery. In our standardised video playback test, the Latitude 3300 survived for 9hrs 7mins before its battery gave up the ghost. For students, running out of charge mid-way through a lecture can be a real cause for concern. With this in your rucksack, you can kiss those worries goodbye.
Dell Latitude 3300 review: Price and competition
Dell lists the Latitude 3300 at £509 excluding VAT, meaning that private buyers will have to stump up £610. That’s still a fair price, and if you’re really strapped for cash there are cheaper, less powerful configurations of the same laptop available from just £329 (excluding VAT).
Of all the laptops we’ve reviewed this year, there’s no mid-range machine that can match the Latitude 3300 for power. Take the Acer Swift 3 (2019) with AMD Ryzen 3 3200U, available from Currys PC World for £499. It’s about £100 cheaper, yes, but the savings aren’t worth it. It’s a woefully underpowered 14in clamshell that failed to keep up with the Latitude 3300 in every single benchmark, from CPU speed to storage performance and battery life.
Coming in at £530, the Avita Liber 14 is a typical example of the mid-range Chinese-made laptops that have flooded the UK market of late. Though it might be prettier, its performance is simply too poor for that amount of money. I’d go with Dell all the way.
Finally, if you don’t mind ditching Windows in favour of Chrome OS, the Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14 is definitely worth considering. At £630 from Amazon, this 2-in-1 is one of the best-value Chromebooks out there. Packing an Intel Core i3 and 4GB RAM, it’s less powerful than the Latitude 3300 but makes up for it with a premium design, matching materials and a superior display.
Dell Latitude 3300 review: Verdict
Dell’s Latitude 3300 is an unexciting but highly practical Windows machine that comes built to last. Crucially, it outperforms the competition within its price range. If you’re working to a budget, this is exactly what you ought to be looking for. At £610 you’ll struggle to do much better than the Latitude 3300 – and you could easily do worse.
Dell Latitude 3300 Education specifications
- Processor-Intel Core i5-8250U, quad-core,1.6-3.4GHz, Kaby Lake R,launched Q3 2017
- RAM-8GB DDR4
- Additional memory slots-0
- Max. memory-8GB
- Graphics adapter-Intel UHD Graphics 620
- Graphics memory-1GB
- Storage-256GB PCIe SSD
- Screen size-13.3in
- Screen resolution-1,366 x 768
- Pixel density-117.8
- Screen type-LCD
- Pointing devices-Touchpad
- Optical drive-No
- Memory card slot-microSD
- 3.5mm audio jack-Yes
- Graphics outputs-USB Type-C, HDMI
- Other ports-USB 3.1 x 2, RJ45 Ethernet,Power port, lock slot
- Web Cam-Yes
- Wi-Fi-Intel Dual Band Wireless AC, 8265 (802.11ac) 2×2
- Bluetooth-Bluetooth 4.2
- Dimensions (WDH)-329.6 x 230.5 x 22.3mm
- Battery size-56Wh
- Operating system-Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
- Operating system restore option-Windows restore partition